THURSDAY 07/08 - MONDAY 11/08
On board the ferry watching the night lights of the shore, fire works and being serenaded by a VERY friendly Pakistani man.
Friday 08/08 - Sultan's Palace, Water Castle and Bird Market
Joy posing with the royal lamp-posts and getting as close as she could to the marble floors (which of course were strictly off limits for us peasants)
|Ornate wooden carvings decorating the halls of the Palace|
|Birds were kept in cages all around the Palace - Indonesian people love and treasure their bird life|
Rox getting ready to lift the Sultan's carriage
|Porcelain tea set|
Cigars in an egg encasing, a hand carved wooden pipe and gold-encrusted elephant tusks
My grand-father's clock was too large for the shelf....
|The squares pieces of leather being shaped and engraved|
|Joy's impression of the Vitruvian Man|
|Rox imitating a 'male model' who had been striking posers here just a minute before|
Joy climbing up a forbidden staircase - to scale the locked gate or not? Unfortunately that dress wasn't meant for breaking and entering.
After the Water Castle, we headed in search of the famous bird market.
We had a crappy little map that we had been given from our hostel and as we have found in Asia, the map did not accurately reflect the distance to be travelled. Our map reading skills had improved vastly since Ha Noi, and we were on the right track, unfortunately this track seemed to never end! Luckily the bird market is a well known local attraction so many local people that we asked along the way assured us that we were getting closer..."only 1km that way..."
We eventually found our destination and immediately plonked ourselves upon a bench where we rested our feet and refuelled on fresh fruit and FREE flowing tap water! We then decided to explore the bird market for all its 'wonders'.
|The bird market|
The Indonesians really love and respect bird life. In the bird market we found all sorts of birds from every part of the world.
|Cute little kitten with one blue and one green eye|
Most of the animals here are hand-reared from babies before they are sold as pets at the market
This little girl plays with her charge and even though it was very hard for us to see so many animals in cages and most of them probably weren't treated very well - it at least gave us a little comfort to see the special bond that these two clearly shared
Once a price was fixed, our driver lightened up and warmed slightly and was happy to pose in photos with us. Although he was a strong looking old man, the distance was so long back to our hostel that he implored the services of a motor bike driver to give him some extra momentum from behind (we prefer to go with this theory as opposed to the possibility that it was our combined weight that was cause for him to require backup)
We arrived back just in time to catch pool time which was bizarrely is only between 4-6 pm.
That evening we were reunited with our favourite local map-man, Saka. As he knew far too well about the state of the public transport in the city and was an eco-warrior, Saka arrived at our hostel on his trusty bicycle. We were very excited to have a tour around the city with someone who knew the his way around and who didn't want to rip us off...we were definitely not going to get lost this time! We walked into town and to a local buffet that Saka often frequented. There were so many local people enjoying a Friday night out. Families, business men and friends were all there. We stepped up to the buffet tables with our empty plates in hand. For us, this process usually involved picking the food that looked the least suspicious and hoping that it would be enjoyable or at least edible, but now we had a food interpreter, so this made the experience much less daunting. Saka patiently explained each item to us as we made our way along the tables full of food. Once our plates were filled with what we were assured would be delicious food, we went to sit down at a huge wooden round table to enjoy our spoils. As we tucked into the local deliciousness, which was so much cheaper than in the tourist centre, we chatted to Saka and found out about his life and country. He was quite an inspiring young man and as he spoke about his country and his hometown, Yogyakarta, we could tell how proud he was. We had wonderful evening swapping stories of our home countries and sharing ideas. After dinner, Saka took us for a walking tour around the city. As we wandered about Saka told us a brief history of Indonesia and we saw the first post office and bank in Yogyakarta, as well as the some other cultural artifacts scattered around the city. As it was Friday night, there was lots of activity in the streets. We witnessed a street re-enactment of traditional warrior dancing from the Indonesian Borneo tribes. It was rather interesting and a little scary. On our way back to the hostel we stopped to treat Saka with an ice-cream...he was so delighted and we all gobbled down our Western cheats! Back at the hostel we sat and chatted for another while and got some good tips on sights to see and food to eat,before bidding our new friend farewell. We then had a good night's rest, ready for the adventures of tomorrow!
Saturday 09/08 - Borobudur and Mystery Meatballs
Borobudur is the largest Buddhist Temple in the world and is one of Indonesia's greatest treasures. People from all over the world and even Indonesian locals flock to the temple each day to marvel at its magnificence.
As instructed on the pamphlet, there was a special way to enter the temple. You had to enter at the East gate and walk clockwise around each level (3 in total) and up to the next, then exit the temple through either the North, South or West gates.
The construction of this temple is truly incredible. It is made out of solid stone blocks stacked upon one another and each wall is covered with intricate carving, all of which tells a story.
Getting the perfect photos in the temple was not a simple task as it was so busy with people everywhere.
The view surrounding the temple was so beautiful...the lush green land and the outline of the blue mountains in the distance
By the time we made it out of the temple and back to the bus station, it was already after 2pm. We still had hopes of visiting the Prambanam Temple as well but we still had to catch the bus back to the main bus station in Jogja and then catch a connecting bus to the second Temple...time didn't seem to be on our side. Once on the bus back, the driver seemed to stop at every little town and pick up every person he could find along the way. At one stop, we waited for about 20minutes. It wasn't all bad though as we got to watch some intense chess games going on the sidewalk next to where we had stopped. The two older gentleman were super serious and you could see that each man had his own strategy in play. After a hot, long and slow drive back to town, we arrived in Jogja around 4:30pm. We were exhausted so we decided to call it quits for the day and rather enjoy another swim in our roof top pool. That evening, we went exploring the city in search of a meatball restaurant Saka had recommended. We found it and enjoyed the local dish which consisted of mysterious meatballs in a noodle soup. We sat on the good ol' plastic stools that resembled those in Vietnam and ordered the only option on the menu. It was quite good and we liked the atmosphere, sharing the table with local families. We went back to the hostel to plan our adventure for the next day...it was going to be a busy one!
Sunday 10/08 - Vredeburg Fortress Museum, Prambanan Temple and Ramayana Ballet
Upon entering the fortress we were lead by the signs into a dark room in which we watch a short film giving the history of Indonesia and the Vredeburg fortress. The fortress was originally called Rustenburg but was renamed Vredeburg which means "Fort of Peace".
It was then off to the fist display room which boasted a group of old artifacts
It became quite clear that the museum was created more for local tourists as most of the information boards were only in Indonesian so we weren't always 100% sure of what was being represented in each display cabinet. Luckily because of our superior observational and deductive skills we were able to identify the following as the 'photograph area'.
We entered the temple area. The temple is situated within a compound which houses beautiful gardens, other Hindu temples and even a deer park. Before we rushed off to see the temple, we were drawn to a performance that was taking place on one of the main lawns. After viewing this rather interesting display for about 2 minutes, it was clear that these 'performers' must have been inebriated or on some kind of special herbs as it was painful to watch.
Ooh...are those flowers I spy...
We did not know too much about the structure or the meaning of each individual temple as we walked around but just took in the atmosphere and appreciated the incredible architecture that surrounded us.
A large earthquake caused damaged to the temple. Although restorations are taking place, there are still some parts that are still left devastated. Here Joy is attempting to help the rebuild!
The impressive Prambanan Temple was not the only temple within the complex so we hopped on this fun-sized 'train' to view the rest of the temples.
This Temple has four entrances, North, South, East and West. Each entrance is guarded by two Dwarapala statures
We stumbled into a dark video room within which a film about the Legend of Ramayana (Rama) was told. It was great for us to hear as we were going to see the ballet based on this story later that evening.
In' short': Prince Rama and Princess Shinta are happily married but then one day as they are walking in the forest, Rama is lured away by a golden deer that is actually an evil spirit geared to separate the happy couple. Although Leksmana, Rama's brother, was suppose to protect Shinta, he was pretty useless, left he alone and she got captured by Rahwana! Once Rama found her missing, he immediately started a mission to rescue his beloved. A huge war ensued where monkey armies were recruited and Rama's sharpened archery skills came into play. They won the war and Shinta was saved. But in classic soap opera fashion, Rama doubted Shinta's fidelity. So in order to prove her faithfulness, she declared that she would walk into fire and if she was impure, the fire would destroy he. Amazingly. she entered the fire and came out of it unharmed! To further convince everyone of this purification act, the fire god Brama came down and presented Shinta back to Rama. They were thus reunited and lived happily ever after!
The film also explained a little more about Prambanan Temple and we learnt that there were statues inside the side temples that we didn't even notice on our first visit...whoops!
The God of Knowledge (Roxy reading), the God of Transport (Joy being a hell-driver) and a Buddha missing a bit of his arm were some of the statues found in the museum show rooms
We passed the main lawns back towards the Prambanan Temple and the show was still going on...still not making any sense whatsoever!
We also came across a deer park (these were in much better conditions than the mouse deer we had previously discovered in KL). We saw a mother and child picking up leaves and feeding them to the deer so we once again followed our motto of 'Do as the locals do' and collected a bunch of leaves. There was this old guy with a cart selling deer food, but we were happy to do some foraging of our own to satisfy the deers' bellies!
There was a special photo spot, so we had to jump on the platform and take advantage of the optimal positioning!
|Joy displaying her ballet skills|
We had some time to kill before the start of the show, so we decided to pop off to the loo and spruce up before entering the open air theatre darling.
We had a little time to spare so Rox took a little power nap on the rather uncomfortable stone seating (she has come to be able to nod off just about anywhere after travelling these past months). As more and more people arrived, her occupation of the front row became increasingly more inappropriate so Joy had to wake this sleeping beauty to free up the extra seats
As the show was about to begin we sat eagerly in our seats, waiting to enjoy references to our childhood ballet moves - Plié, Jeté and Arabesque with a taste of Indonesian spice. But what we witnessed was more closely associated to traditional African gumboot dancing than anything the Royal Academy of Ballet would choreograph.
The Ramayana Ballet was split into four episodes, one performed each evening. The third episode - Kumbarana Leno (The death of Kumbokarno) - was being performed on our night. As the performance was taking place there were screens behind the dancers that explained each scene in both Indonesian and English. This was helpful as it sometimes challenging to recognise characters and follow the storyline.
This episode revolved around the big battle for Rama and his army to save Shinta. The monkey army was assembled, the seas were parted by Rama's magic arrow and some brave soldiers lost their lives. It was a touching and emotional display of one man's determination to rescue his true love.
One hilarious part happened when the talented archer, Rama, had to kill an evil warrior with a single arrow...unfortunately the actor who portrayed the mythical hero was less skilled at wielding a bow and ended up darting his ally right in the face. But miraculously, although untouched by the arrow, the evil warrior fell to the ground...dead! Wow...Rama really must have a magic arrow! [this was the second time during the performance that one of Rama's arrows had gone astray...instead of firing the first flying arrow off stage, he managed to aim it directly into the neck of a little girl dressed like a lily].